LONDON (release) -- Seven days ago, the USA Women’s Olympic basketball team rolled past Croatia, 109-55, in an exhibition contest in Istanbul, Turkey. In their opening contest of the 2012 Olympiad on Saturday, the Americans won the match-up again, but they needed a 28-9 fourth-quarter to prevail this time, 81-56, at Olympic Park Basketball Arena.
A pair of former Tennessee Lady Vols were in the starting lineup and were keys to the victory. Playing in her second Olympic Games, Candace Parker produced a double-double, dropping in 11 points and collecting 13 rebounds for her squad. Tamika Catchings, meanwhile, chipped in 10 points and five boards toward the winning cause in her third appearance in the Games. The UT products helped the Red, White and Blue overcome 21 turnovers.
Croatia didn’t score its first points of the game until two minutes remained in the first period, but a cold shooting touch and a proclivity for turnovers limited the USA to only an 11-4 advantage after one stanza. The Americans continued to struggle in finding their range and offensive continuity, leading only 31-28 at the half and 53-47 after three.
Fortunately for Team USA, that all changed in the fourth quarter, as the squad found its groove and used a 16-0 run to pull away from upset-minded Croatia. Strong board play by Catchings and an increase in overall intensity by the team were key contributing factors to that final-stanza explosion.
The USA will be back in action on Monday, as a tilt with Angola awaits at 5:15 p.m. Eastern time.
For access to bios for Catchings and Parker and a game schedule, please go to the UT Olympics Website at http://www.utsports.com/genrel/2012-olympians.html.